The $496 million payment made by the Federal Government to an Indian firm for the Itakpe Iron Ore Company concession is now under scrutiny by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Steel Development. The committee passed a resolution on Thursday to investigate this payment, which was made to a company that failed to revitalize the Itakpe Iron Ore Company after three years.
In 2016, Global Infrastructure Holding Limited took over the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, Kogi State. However, their agreement was terminated in 2019 due to non-performance. Consequently, GIHL took legal action against the Federal Government for breach of contract and was awarded damages amounting to $496 million, which has already been paid.
This failed concession agreement was brought to light during the 2024 budget defense session, where the Minister of Steel Development, Abubakar Audu, and officials from his ministry appeared before the National Assembly. Audu explained that the agreement was terminated because the concessionaire failed to meet expectations and was exporting iron ore instead of producing it for domestic steel development. He further disclosed that the payment was made to settle the litigation and breach of agreement.
Senator Natasha Akpoti Uduaghan expressed discontent with the situation, questioning the rationale behind paying an annual sum of N1.5 billion to the staff of a concessioned firm. She also raised concerns about the lack of public awareness regarding the termination of the agreement and demanded details of the litigation while urging the committee to thoroughly investigate the entire concession deal.
The committee, led by co-chairman Dr. Zainab Gimba, agreed with Akpoti-Uduaghan’s stance, and it was resolved to conduct a public hearing at a later date to delve deeper into the concession agreement.